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Mayor Gregor Robertson shares new details on the Vancouver Music Strategy during JUNOs Week in Vancouver

Vancouver’s Mayor, Gregor Robertson, announced this morning at the JUNO Host Committee’s Music Cities Forum that the Vancouver Music Strategy will be presented to council in summer of 2018. The strategy has been in development since mid-2016, led by the Vancouver Music City Steering Committee with input from an Advisory Committee.

“There’s no doubt we have enormous potential in music and sound, particularly given the scale of our creative industries,” Robertson told the Music Cities Forum crowd.

In a City of Vancouver release, Robertson expanded on the Strategy’s goals: “Vancouver is home to a growing number of world-class artists who are building a vibrant and diverse music scene in our city. The Vancouver Music Strategy will help our artists to thrive—not just survive—by boosting our creative economy and seizing opportunities to grow our local music industry.”

The Strategy will be informed by two concurrent studies that received support from the BC Music Fund’s Research Program: Music BC’s City of Vancouver Music Ecosystem study, also funded by FACTOR and conducted by Sound Diplomacy, and Music Canada Live’s Economic Impact Assessment of Live Music in BC, facilitated by Nordicity. Both studies are expected to be completed in spring of 2018.

“This is a pivotal time for the City of Vancouver and British Columbia as we look to safeguard the long-term viability of the music sector within the creative economy. Music BC and the [Vancouver] Music City Steering Committee are committed to ensuring that these findings are used to reach our common goals of a vibrant and sustainable industry that will allow our artists and music industry professionals to thrive on the global stage,” said Alex Grigg, Executive Director of Music BC and Co-chair of the Vancouver Music City Steering Committee, in the City release. “This will be a benchmark for Music BC to work with other cities and municipalities across the province to implement like-minded strategies.  Music BC would like to thank the City of Vancouver, the Province of BC, FACTOR and all of our stakeholders for your continued support.”

It is a thrilling day for music in Vancouver and the province of British Columbia, as the Government of BC also announced a new music fund this morning called AMPLIFY BC. The excitement over the two announcements was palpable at the Music Cites Forum.


British Columbia music community celebrates new music fund, AMPLIFY BC

Vancouver, March 22, 2018: Music BC and Music Canada today applaud the Government of British Columbia’s announcement of a new music fund for the province called AMPLIFY BC. Administered through Creative BC, the new Fund will provide much-needed support for the development of BC artists and musicians, music companies, skills development and live music production, stimulating economic growth and activity in the sector.

“Music Canada would like to applaud the Government of BC and Minister Beare for this important investment which demonstrates their confidence in the music sector,” says Amy Terrill, Executive Vice President of Music Canada. “The intense interest in the former BC Music Fund’s suite of programs underscores that BC is home to a vibrant, diverse and engaged music community ready to take their songs and businesses to the next level. With this new investment BC will continue to benefit from leveraged private and other government dollars, and ensure the BC music sector remains competitive with other jurisdictions.”

The announcement was made during JUNOs Week, as the Canadian music industry was congregated in Vancouver for the 47th annual JUNO Awards, celebrating excellence in Canadian music while also showcasing Vancouver, and the province’s music sector to the rest of the country.

“This is a great day for the province’s music scene allowing us to build on the momentum of the last two years,” says Alex Grigg, Executive Director of Music BC. “In this time, our industry has focused on helping BC artists develop their careers and showcase their talent around the world, boost business in BC studios, create greater opportunities for live music performances that bolster activity in our communities, and facilitate professional development so that we can build a stronger, more sustainable industry. On behalf of the staff, board of directors and the BC music industry we extend our gratitude to the Government of BC and Minister Beare for their continued support and investment into the BC Music sector.”

Music BC and Music Canada would also like to thank all members of the BC music community who participated in the effort to secure provincial funding and shared their insights, experiences and success stories. The one-year investment of $7.5 million will contribute to BC’s strong and vibrant communities and also benefit BC tourism, arts and creative industries, and small business development.



For more information:

Corey Poole, Music Canada
(647) 808-7359

Neesha Hothi, Music BC
(604) 715-6057


About Music Canada
Music Canada is a non-profit trade organization that represents the major record companies in Canada: Sony Music Entertainment Canada, Universal Music Canada and Warner Music Canada. Music Canada also works with some of the leading independent record labels and distributors, recording studios, live music venues, concert promoters, managers and artists in the promotion and development of the music cluster. For more on Music Canada, please visit

About Music BC
Music BC Industry Association is a not for profit association serving the for profit and non-profit music industry, including artists from all genres, industry professionals, service providers, studios, promoters, venues, festivals, producers, agents, managers and educational institutions. For more on Music BC, please visit


Barrie-Simcoe County music strategy envisions nationally-recognized ‘constellation’ of music scenes

On Wednesday, March 7 at the Five Points Theatre (formerly the Mady Centre for the Performing Arts) in downtown Barrie, Ontario, representatives from CultureCap and Nordicity unveiled the brand-new Barrie-Simcoe County Music Strategy. The Strategy was informed by a recent survey that garnered more than 270 responses from community members across Simcoe County, as well as consultations with local artists, labels, venues, tourism officials and municipal staff from local governments.

Combining various independent data sources, an inventory and map of musical resources in Simcoe County was constructed. 256 music businesses were identified in the County, mostly concentrated in five clusters: Barrie, Midland, Orillia, Wasaga Beach and Collingwood. As such, the Strategy sets a bold vision that “Simcoe County will be nationally-recognized as a constellation of distinct local music scenes committed to artistic ambition” within three years, where its distinct scenes shine brighter when united.

To reach this goal by 2021, the Strategy proposes the following mission for Simcoe County governments and the music community:

  • Build the foundation to support and advocate for music
  • Connect people in the music community, both internally and externally
  • Streamline regulatory pathways
  • Promote accessibility to reasonably-priced rehearsal spaces
  • Tell stories and build an identity to bolster a local star system

42% of the financial activity of music businesses in the County is generated in the summer season, and the Strategy suggests creating a cluster in the live music sector with festivals, venues and artists, and also framing Simcoe County as a place that “lets festivals happen.”

The project is being spearheaded by many local partners: Regional Tourism Organization 7 (RTO7), Simcoe County, the City of Barrie, the City of Orillia, the Town of Collingwood and the Central Ontario Music Council (MusicCO).

To guide the execution of the Strategy, a collaborative organizational structure in which MusicCO acts as a coordinating body of several Local Municipal Music Committees, beginning with Barrie, Orillia and Collingwood, is proposed.

Stay tuned for updates from the project’s partners in the near future as the results of the study and the full Barrie-Simcoe County Music Strategy are officially released.



#EveryStage: How Music Canada’s Music Cities advocacy aims to make Canadian municipalities more music and musician friendly

Last week Music Canada launched our JUNOS 2018 #EveryStage campaign, intended to highlight the ways our advocacy supports artists at every stage of their career, with a blog about our aim to secure equitable access to quality music education for all young Canadians.

We’re proud to return as a Platinum Partner of the 47th annual JUNOS, sponsoring both the Album of the Year category as well as the official kickoff to JUNO weekend, the Welcome Reception.

In the second installment of our four-part series leading up the 2018 JUNO Awards, we’ll explore Music Cities and Music Canada’s efforts to help make Canadian municipalities more music and musician-friendly. A Music City is a community of any size with a vibrant music economy.

Why it’s important

Vibrant and actively promoted local music ecosystems bring a wide array of benefits to both cities and the musicians inhabiting them. Economic growth, job creation, increased spending, greater tax revenues and cultural development are just a few examples.

“Live music is a growth industry in Ottawa. It shapes our identity and who we are as a city. In addition to the cultural benefits, a thriving music industry helps to level the playing field for our homegrown companies who are competing to attract talent from around the world.” – Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa

How we advocate

Music Canada’s world-renowned and globe-spanning research has identified several key strategies that cities both large and small can use to grow and strengthen their music economy. We work with municipal governments and regional partners to implement music and musician-friendly policies, establish music offices and advisory boards, as well as promote music tourism, audience development and access to the spaces and places where music is made.

Cities across Canada, including London, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Toronto, Barrie/Simcoe County, Halifax, Moncton, Ottawa, Windsor-Essex, Guelph and more have implemented or are exploring measures to maximize the impact, growth and support for their local music ecosystems, and Music Canada has been proud to provide support through our research and expertise in the development of these strategies.

Learn more

Our 2015 report The Mastering of a Music City represents a roadmap that communities of all sizes can follow to realize the full potential of their music economy. Truly global in scale, the report is the result of more than forty interviews with music community experts, government officials, and community leaders in more than twenty cities on every continent.

“This should remove barriers to performing and creating music. Ultimately the goal is to create a more sustainable music community where artists and professionals can enjoy successful careers.” – Graham Henderson, President and CEO of Music Canada

Our annual Music Cities Summit at Canadian Music Week brings policymakers, city planners and global music industry representatives together to discuss, learn and collaborate.

Chambers of commerce have an opportunity to carve out a leadership role in leveraging music as a driver of employment and economic growth. In 2016, Music Canada partnered with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) to create a Music Cities Toolkit, designed to provide the CCC’s network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, in all regions of the country, with a guide to activate the power of music in their city.

“The cities of Kitchener and Waterloo have long recognized that a comprehensive and coordinated approach for live music allows us to not only expand our existing events such as the Kitchener Blues Festival but also attract new business and retain talent. As this document confirms, Music Canada is a tremendous resource for all stakeholders in formulating a local strategy, particularly in bridging municipal, business and cultural sector interests. Through national and international experience they know what works for the benefit of the entire community.” –  Ian McLean, President & Chief Executive Officer, Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce

Live Music Measures Up is the first comprehensive economic impact study of the live music industry in Ontario. It provides critical data and information to help guide decision-making within the sector, in government and other allied stakeholders.

Measuring Live Music represents an historic, timely and monumental opportunity; one which will enable us to entrench the true value of the live music economy in the minds of our stakeholders, government and audiences alike. It’s inspiring to see the sector organize, work together and build on the momentum we can all feel – here in the Province and around the world – the kind that will help guarantee live music takes its rightful place as one of Ontario’s greatest natural resources.” – Erin Benjamin, Executive Director, Music Canada Live



City of Toronto’s recently released Economic Development and Culture Divisional Strategy provides framework for arts, culture, and business to thrive

The City of Toronto has released its new Economic Development and Culture Divisional Strategy. The report establishes the Division’s priorities over the next five years (2018-2022), and provides the framework that will be used to guide the development of the Divisional programs and services.

The development of the Strategy included robust consultation with over 400 city residents and industry partners, a process that Music Canada was an active participant in. The feedback received provided insight into the importance of supporting the culture sector, and its key role in supporting the growth of a vibrant economy and business community.

Some of the key objectives the strategy aims to accomplish was to “encourage Toronto’s cultural vibrancy through more and enhanced cultural experiences,” as well as to further “engage partners in the planning and development of the City’s economic and cultural resources.”

The Economic Development and Culture (EDC) Divisional Strategy includes several strategic goals and actions, with a focus on improving four key areas:

  1. Equity and Inclusion
  2. Talent and Innovation
  3. Space and Access
  4. Operational Excellence

Some of the strategy’s areas of interest are highlighted below:

Improving affordability and access to arts and culture spaces

One of the key goals that is outlined in the strategy is working to “improve access and affordability of space for business and culture.” Some of the proposed actions to address this include: leveraging incentives and grants to support access to these spaces, advocating for the establishment of affordable, sustainable spaces for business and culture, and working to support opportunities for multi-tenant, shared spaces and hubs.

As was highlighted in our Mastering of a Music City report, access to affordable arts and culture facilities (spaces and places) is vital to the health of vibrant Music Cities. Rapidly rising rents and property taxes has significantly impacted the ability of live venues, rehearsal spaces, and arts hubs to continue operating, threatening the livelihoods of the artists who require access to them. The City has taken steps to help protect and support cultural facilities, with the most recent action being the creation of a new tax subclass to support arts/culture hubs and properties.

Another positive step to note was the recent decision of the Economic Development Committee to pass a number of Toronto Music Advisory Council (TMAC) recommendations aimed at providing better support for live music in the city. Of particular interest is the recommendation to create tax benefits for local live music venues, a policy action that would help achieve the key priority of venue sustainability.

Enhancing opportunities for artists and creators to access public spaces

Another key goal included in the EDC Strategy was increasing access to City-owned space, through: improving opportunities for community use of EDC-managed facilities, and working with City divisions to explore the feasibility of making other City-owned spaces available for use. Providing opportunities for local musicians to perform in public spaces within their own city is one of the ways a municipality can help to grow and support its vibrant music ecosystem.

Outstanding examples of these types and events and programming include City Hall Live and the YYZ Live performance series, a musical celebration that featured 150 performances from 75 local artists at Pearson International Airport.


The EDC Division’s previous two strategies – released in 2011 and 2013 – helped contribute the development of a Toronto Music Strategy, as well as the establishment of Music and Film Sector Development Teams.

It is encouraging to note that the new strategy further solidifies the City’s commitment to supporting the culture sector, recognizing the tremendous cultural and economic impact of the arts.


Top Ten (11) Things You Need to Develop a Music City

What does it take to become a Music City?  This question has occupied people on every continent over the last several years since the publication of The Mastering of a Music City by Music Canada.  Elected leaders, municipal officials, music community advocates and business leaders from a variety of towns, regions and cities, have been enticed by the idea of a vibrant music economy with its promised economic, social and cultural benefits.

Just the past weekend, over 30 cities sent teams to the Responsible Hospitality Institute’s (RHI) convening on sociable cities where Music Canada’s Executive Vice President, Amy Terrill, was asked to identify the top ten things cities need to develop a Music City.

RHI’s approach to sociable cities builds on a foundation of four key elements:  Form an Alliance, Plan for People, Assure Safety and Enhance Vibrancy with music falling into the final category.

Joining an international faculty of thought leaders, Terrill presented the following top 10 list (with a bonus number 11) for cities looking to develop as a Music City.

  1. Driver – there needs to be an individual or organization which has influence in your community that is passionately committed to this effort and is willing to resolutely move it forward. This may be a music organization or a leader in the music community; it may be a politician or the head of a city agency.  There will be many others needed to fill out the band, but there must be someone on lead vocals who can command respect and understands both music and municipal politics.
  2. Music Community engagement – it’s important the music community is fully engaged from the beginning of the process. Without their broad support, your program will likely lack authenticity and not succeed. Who will build trust in the music community and help overcome any skepticism about involvement from City Hall?  Who will organize the music community around the mission?  Who will keep the program rooted in what makes your city’s music scene unique?  Furthermore, representation from a broad cross-section of the community is critical to ensuring the program doesn’t become mired in industry politics.
  3. Champions – champions will be needed from many corners – city staff, and leaders of allied agencies like tourism, economic development, downtown business associations, chambers of commerce – people who understand what you’re trying to do and will rally support from their networks. Identify key stakeholders, as they will likely become important influencers and add legitimacy to your policy efforts.  We find impassioned music fans in all walks of life and often some of your key stakeholders will fall into this category.
  4. Political leadership – if your driver is not already in the Mayor’s office, then you will need to find a political champion. The support of a Mayor and members of City Council will be necessary when, inevitably, matters come to a vote before them.  In addition, political direction is paramount to motivating, or giving city staff the necessary reassurance, to add programs, change the ways things have always been done, or free up scarce city resources.
  5. Catalyst – it certainly helps to have a catalyst. Perhaps it’s a major music event or the opportunity to host one.  The annual JUNO Awards (Canada’s version of the Grammy’s) has been an effective catalyst for several host communities.  It might also be an election, a public policy consultation or even a crisis.  Any one of these things can provide the urgency needed to inspire people to take risks, do things differently and make the investment of time, creativity and resources that’s required.
  6. Validation – tap into best practices from other cities and the active network of advocates, policy makers, artists, municipal leaders which is leading the way in this work. Validation from other cities will make your job a lot easier and can be critical in convincing otherwise skeptical city leaders. It also enables you to identify key factors for success, and ensure that these aspects are incorporated into your own planning process.
  7. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses – measure your city against the essential elements of a Music City defined in The Mastering of a Music City as:
      1. Artists and musicians;
      2. Music ecosystem (professionals and businesses who support artists in their careers);
      3. Spaces and places (education, rehearsal, recording);
      4. Thriving music scene (venue ladder, all ages etc);
      5. Receptive and engaged audience.

You will not have 100% of all of these elements covered when you begin, but you need to know what your strengths and weaknesses are in these fundamental components.

  1. Strategy Development – ultimately you want to develop a music strategy for your community. Common strategies can be found in The Mastering of a Music City but while we can learn from other cities, there is no cookie-cutter approach.  Your strategy should be based on the unique aspects of your community.  Avoid the tendency to want to be all things to all people, or to try to do everything at once.  Begin with short term opportunities that will likely bear fruit quickly.  That will provide you with those early wins that will enable you to build momentum and amass allies. But it is also important to identify medium and long-term goals, as these enable you to design your policy and programming with the goal of sustainability.
  2. Clear roles and responsibilities – clarity about who is responsible for such things as strategy implementation and communication is essential for success. You will most likely involve volunteers on committees or advisory boards, as well as paid city staff or agency staff.  Ensure all participants are clear from the beginning about their roles.  Such things as committee terms of reference, job descriptions, and communication policies can be helpful.
  3. Succession Planning – while a successful program may benefit from the passion or expertise of individuals, in order to ensure longevity, you need to consider succession planning from the start.
  4. Patience – invariably this initiative will take longer to bear fruit than you expected. Bureaucracy can be slow to change; individuals and organizations can be heavily entrenched in doing things a certain way; and, there will be unexpected obstacles that deter you from your path.  Be patient and acknowledge each minor achievement along the way.

“It was a privilege to be part of the Sociable City Summit,” says Terrill.  “I was particularly impressed by the diversity of city representation with elected officials, city staff, downtown business leaders, law enforcement agencies, universities, venue operators, architects and other professionals coming together for conversations about the nighttime economy.”


New research from SOCAN provides more evidence for the value of Music Cities strategies

The results of a new survey commissioned by SOCAN provide new evidence to support the development of Music City strategies, like those detailed in Music Canada’s landmark study, The Mastering of a Music City.

The SOCAN study titled Live Music & Urban Canadians confirms that most Canadians living in urban centres think it is important to live in a neighbourhood “with a vibrant local arts scene that includes live music” and support a portion of funds from new property developments going to community arts and culture developments.

Some details of the survey were initially shared in an opinion piece for the Toronto Star by SOCAN’s CEO Eric Baptiste titled Cities can create conditions for live music to thrive. The article was followed by another release expanding on the results of the survey and proposing ways that municipalities and music fans can support live music.

Results from SOCAN’s research include:

  • “Nearly two-thirds (63%) of urban Canadians agree that it is important to live in a neighbourhood with a vibrant arts scene that includes live music.”

Respondents with a university degree (71%) were more likely to agree with this sentiment versus those with a college (58%) or high school (49%) education. Urban residents in Atlantic Canada (74%) were also most in agreement versus residents in other parts of Canada, followed by Quebec (68%), British Columbia (67%), Ontario (63%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (54%) and Alberta (50%).

  • “The vast majority (80%) of urban Canadians would support a portion of funds going to community arts & culture developments.”

SOCAN’s survey stated that “currently new property developers in some municipalities are required to put a portion of funds towards community development, city parks, etc,” and asked respondents whether they would support a portion of these funds being put towards arts & culture developments like live music venues and local theatres.

Urban Canadians who agreed that living in a neighbourhood with a vibrant arts and live music scene was important to them were significantly more likely to agree (91%) that development fees should support arts & culture developments than those who did not agree (62%).

  • “Roughly half (49%) of urban Canadians would enjoy owning and living in a condo that offered live music in the lobby.”

SOCAN’s survey noted that many condos in the US and Europe have restaurants and bars in their lobbies. Of the urban Canadians who responded that they would enjoy live music in their lobby, young Canadians aged 18-34 were most likely to agree (66%) and respondents living in Quebec were less likely to agree (39%) than Canadian outside of Quebec (55%).

As noted in The Mastering of a Music City, music can play a powerful role in city brand building, and also in attracting and retaining talent and investment in a city’s broader economy. In a world where talent is highly mobile, some cities are focusing on the vibrancy of their music and arts scene as a way to stand out from the competition. SOCAN’s research adds further evidence to support this observation.

Access to the spaces and places in which music can be made – from education to rehearsal to recording to performance – is also one of the seven key strategies to grow and strengthen a local music economy identified in The Mastering of a Music City.

But the relationship between residential buildings and these spaces, including live music venues, rehearsal spaces, and arts hubs, is one in which cities across the world are attempting to strike the right balance. New residential developments have, in some cases, been developed on properties formerly occupied by live venues or community arts hubs. Other venues have been threatened by rising rents, property values and taxes that do not consider the social value of these cultural spaces.

What tools are at a city’s disposal that might be, given SOCAN’s research, supported by urban Canadians?

401 Richmond, a live-work community arts hub in Toronto, was recently confronted with a property tax increase that threatened its closure. Recognizing the cultural significance of venues such as 401 Richmond, the Province of Ontario announced it was prepared to, in conjunction with the City, develop a new tax class for heritage properties.

Toronto City Councillor Joe Cressy then brought a successful motion to council to formally begin the process of establishing “Toronto’s new Culture and Creative property tax sub-class.”

Another tool adopted by cities like Melbourne, San Francisco, Montreal and London is the Agent of Change principle in land use planning. The Mastering of a Music City describes the principle as such:

“The Agent of Change Principle determines which party is required to adopt noise mitigation measures in situations of mixed land use. If the ‘agent of change’ is a new apartment building that is being built near a pre-existing music venue, the apartment building is responsible for sound attenuation. On the other hand, if the music venue is undergoing renovations and therefore is the ‘agent of change’ in the neighbourhood, it is responsible for noise mitigation.”

In Toronto, while various measures are under consideration and review, the City’s Film & Entertainment Industries’ Music Unit can now add comments to applications circulated by the Planning Division for any new development within 120 metres of an existing live music venue so that staff can identify any potential conflicts and make recommendations.

These and other policies, like reviewing noise bylaws, can go a long way in allowing live music venues and residential properties to coexist, facilitating the conditions for the vibrant arts and cultural communities that SOCAN’s research has shown are important to nearly two-thirds of urban Canadians.

This research comes as regions across Canada, including London, Vancouver, Hamilton, Windsor-Essex, Moncton, Ottawa, Barrie-Simcoe County, and more have implemented or are considering strategies to better support and grow their music ecosystems. SOCAN’s new findings provide even more evidence for the value in municipal strategies that create the environment for music ecosystems to flourish.


A series of recommendations from Toronto Music Advisory Council are one step closer to policy after Economic Development Committee approval

Members of Toronto’s Economic Development Committee passed a suite of Toronto Music Advisory Council (TMAC) recommendations today aimed at providing better support for the city’s live music venues, and facilitating the collection of data for an international study on night time economies.

Toronto’s Economic Development Committee is composed of councillors Fragedakis, Grimes, Hart, Holland, Kelly and Thompson (Chair), many of whom spoke passionately about the value of music and culture to the city’s identity and well-being, as well as music’s significant contribution to the local economy.

“Life without music, life without culture, would be no life,” said Committee Chair Michael Thompson, Councilor for Ward 37 (Scarborough Centre) and former TMAC Co-Chair.

Spencer Sutherland, current Co-Chair of TMAC, owner of Toronto music venue Nocturne and Chairman of the Queen West Business Improvement Area, gave a deputation at the meeting thanking the Committee and Council for its support thus far, and speaking to the progress TMAC has made to reach these recommendations.

Many of the recommendations were specifically created to address the challenges that live music venues face, like rising property taxes, as well as licensing and other logistical challenges. A sense of urgency to address the situation for venues came to a fever pitch in 2017.

“As you might recall at the same time last year our city was facing an unprecedented crisis of music venues closing at an alarming rate of one per week,” said Sutherland. “Thankfully, so far this year we have seen none of that.”

Later in the meeting Josh Colle, Councillor for Ward 15 (Eglinton-Lawrence) and TMAC Co-Chair, said the story that is not often told is about venues opening or re-opening, such as Hugh’s Room and The Hideout. Colle praised the work of TMAC, and specifically the venue sustainability working group, which he said “really lit a fire” under councillors to act to provide better protection and support for live music.

The agenda item up for consideration was titled “Night-time Economy – Collection of Data and Protection of Live Music Venues,” and recommendations made to the Committee by the TMAC were divided into two categories.

The first related to an international study of the night time economy being conducted by the Responsible Hospitality Institute examining effective and sustainable models for night time economy management.  TMAC requested that the General Manager, Economic Development and Culture, in collaboration with the Director, Office of Emergency Management and the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, facilitate the collection of accurate data by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) to contribute to the international study.

Cities around the globe are examining various policies to best support their night time economies, and some cities, such as Amsterdam and New York, have appointed a Night Mayor to represent the businesses and cultures that thrive outside of the nine-to-five. In a 2016 Huffington Post blog, Music Canada’s Executive Vice President Amy Terrill asked “Does Toronto need a Night Mayor?”

Councillor Thompson noted that Toronto is paying attention to initiatives in other cities, including New York and London, and felt the City could do more to maximize the potential of its night time economy. “There are many things that are taking place and in a city like ours – it never sleeps,” Thompson told the Committee. “People sleep at individual times but the city itself is always alive and vibrant.”

The second recommendation from TMAC was all about live music and was made up of a suite of nine recommendations included in a previously requested report on protecting live music venues in Toronto. The General Manager, Economic Development and Culture, was asked to consider the following:

  1. Create tax benefits for local live music venues.
  2. Initiate and expand music pilot programs including ideas for artist tour bus parking, musician load in/out zones and artist poster zones.
  3. Create a music venue certification program.
  4. Amend zoning and licensing to protect existing venues and encourage new ones including a clarification of what business license music venues require.
  5. Create a panel, consisting of a member of the Film and Entertainment Office, members of the Live Working Group, and senior members of planning, building and licensing, with regard to providing advice to individuals and/or organizations wishing to establish new and/or grow existing live music venues.
  6. Review Municipal Licensing Regulations governing parks, green spaces, and city owned outdoor venues.
  7. Support Night-time Economy initiatives with The Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) and Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI).
  8. Financial support for an economic impact study of local live music venues.
  9. Financial support for a local Music Passport event series.

All recommendations in the agenda item passed with the support of the Economic Development Committee and will now be brought to Toronto City Council at a yet to be determined date.

“I hope that these suggestions are embraced and supported by Committee and then by Council,” commented Councillor Colle. “I hope we see the continuation of what I think is – well, what the challenge is – the healthiest and most robust Music City in the world.”


Making the most of Toronto’s UNESCO Designation

Toronto joined an exclusive club made up of 180 cities worldwide last week when the City of Toronto and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) announced that Toronto has been designated a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts. While there may not have been much media coverage of the pronouncement, the city’s creative industries ought to be paying attention.

This makes Toronto one of the first cities in Canada to join the network, which was started in 2004 and includes designations for Media Arts, Music, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Design and Crafts and Folk Art.  Toronto’s designation of Media Arts is an attempt to capture the city’s achievements in not one, but several disciplines: “film, music, digital media and forms of cultural expression using technology”.

Few people in Canada may be familiar with UNESCO’s Creative City Network and are perhaps more familiar with its historical site designations or research.  This is not a surprise as North America has been relatively slower to join this party.  In fact, despite much attention given to Music Cities in North America, including many cities that build their brand on the artform, the first UNESCO City of Music in North America (Kansas City) has only just now been designated.

The international recognition of Toronto’s creative sector efforts is cause for celebration.  However, the designation should not be seen as the finish line, but as a springboard for further action. Based on our worldwide scan of Music City strategies, it is clear that the UNESCO designation has the potential of falling into the category of a public relations exercise.  But only if we let it.

In some cities, the designation has mobilized a comprehensive program for the promotion, protection and growth of the creative industry for which it is earned.  The UNESCO designation has, in other cases, ensured sustained political leadership on creative industry development and investment.  The network itself has afforded some cities with practical sharing of knowledge and best practices.

Toronto’s entire music community – including artists and industry – has an opportunity to make sure that the UNESCO designation has meaning.  We can leverage the UNESCO designation to secure an ongoing commitment to our music strategy and key priorities like venue sustainability, regulatory red tape reduction, livability for artists and musicians and access to spaces and places for the creation, rehearsal and production of music.  We can also use it to reinforce music’s equal standing alongside our partners in film and digital media.

UNESCO’s Creative City Network is definitely what we make it.   Let’s take ownership of this opportunity, and prove what we already know: Toronto can be the greatest Music City in the world.  We define it, and now we have another tool to help us build it.


UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network promotes cooperation between global cities that place creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans.


City of Ottawa’s Draft Budget 2018 makes significant commitment to Ottawa Music Strategy

The City of Ottawa made a significant commitment to the city’s burgeoning Music Strategy today, as Mayor Jim Watson unveiled Ottawa’s Draft Budget 2018 at City Council. The draft budget earmarks $100,000 to support the Ottawa Music Strategy.

The Ottawa Music Strategy was announced last March, and is part of the legacy of Ottawa’s hosting of the 2017 JUNO Awards. The Strategy is being developed by the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition (OMIC), with the goal of making the nation’s capital one of the world’s premier music cities. OMIC has already assembled a group of music industry representatives and local business and community leaders, known as the Ottawa Music Strategy Task Force, to develop a series of practical recommendations for the Strategy.

The announcement was applauded on Twitter by OMIC, Ottawa Councillor Jeff Leiper, and Music Canada Live.

To help guide the Strategy’s final recommendations, OMIC and the City of Ottawa are seeking public input in a brief, anonymous survey. The Strategy is expected to be presented to City Council in early 2018.

The draft budget will be voted on by City Council on Dec. 13, 2017.

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